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Arsenal opt against matching €16m offer for former starlet as part of buy-back agreement

Arsenal have reportedly opted against exercising an option to match a rival offer to take back Ismael Bennacer from Empoli.

The 21-year-old spent two years with the Gunners between 2015 and 2017, but was only able to make one appearance for the senior side in the League Cup.

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In turn, that led to a loan spell with Tours before he eventually moved on to join Empoli in 2017, where he established himself as a pivotal figure.

Despite their relegation last season, Bennacer emerged as one of their top and most consistent performers with his energy, tenacity and technical quality in midfield, and it appears as though he’s all set to take the next step in his career.

According to respected Sky Sport Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Bennacer is the subject of a €16m offer from AC Milan, and after having seven days to respond and match that bid to exercise a buy-back agreement, Arsenal have reportedly seen that deadline come and go to give up their chance to take him back to north London.

On one hand, it may well be a mistake from the Gunners given Bennacer’s quality and given his value is likely to only increase further, while they weren’t particularly impressive defensively last season and could have done with adding some more steel to their midfield.

Nevertheless, it’s good news from a Milan perspective, as that would suggest that the Italian giants now have a clear run at signing the Algerian international, who will likely put his club future on hold until after the AFCON final against Senegal on Friday.

Based on the report above though, it sounds as though it’s merely a matter of time before Milan bolster their midfield, while Unai Emery will look elsewhere to strengthen his squad where possible this summer.

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